A tomato and basil salad is nearly effortless yet extremely delicious when you have the right ingredients. I can eat this salad or variations of it at least once a week. In the past few years, the variety of tomatoes in the local markets have improved dramatically. From the large beefsteak tomatoes (unfortunately many hot house or hydroponically grown which dilutes flavor somewhat), to the different cherry tomato varieties, pear tomatoes, and rare heirloom tomato finds still mostly grown in enthusiasts’ backyards… a salad of this sort is perfect summer food.
All you need are ripe tomatoes, preferably in several varieties, colors, sizes, etc. Good sea salt (our native is great but you may have to grind it up a little to help it dissolve), extra virgin olive oil, balsamic or red wine/sherry vinegar, fresh basil and freshly cracked black pepper. To make, slice tomatoes in different shapes and sizes. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with good olive oil. Rip up some basil leaves and throw on top. Add vinegar if you like though if the tomatoes are really good vinegar is not necessary. Add some freshly cracked black pepper. Some variations of this salad include adding some good mozzarella or even chunks of smelly blue cheese. Yum.
This salad is often served in restaurants and more often than not (over 80% in my opinion), it is done really badly. The main reason: lousy tomatoes and blackish basil caused by cutting with a knife and letting it sit on the counter for too long. Because it is so easy, you should never accept a poor version from a decent restaurant…